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Subsidiarity Is The Key To Humanitarian Response In The Age Of COVID-19

The threat of introducing COVID-19 in the Pacific has to be considered in humanitarian efforts to get support on the ground in areas impacted by natural disasters. Local communities must be empowered to take action and make decisions based on their needs and capabilities. For Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand, the principle of subsidiarity in the foundation of their work enables them to respond to Cyclone Harold through the continued support of their partners in the Pacific.

“While we can’t be physically present with those who have been affected, we still retain the ability to respond,” says Caritas Director Julianne Hickey. “Our long-term relationships with local communities provide direct avenues for us to contribute our support to those most in need.”

In Port Vila, Caritas has enabled a local warehouse to dispatch emergency stock to the areas in Vanuatu which were hit hardest by Cyclone Harold. Over $100,000 worth of essential supplies – including food, water, tarpaulins and kitchen sets – are now ready to send out to local communities.

Caritas Humanitarian Coordinator George Fa’alogo had recently visited Port Vila in October 2019 to review the emergency supply stock and deliver training on the use of water filtration systems. The relationship Caritas has developed through long-term communication and close cooperation with the Diocese of Port Vila has enabled a quick and effective response to the most urgent needs of those impacted by the cyclone.

“The width and depth of our relationships is our strength,” says Mr Fa’alogo. “We rely on the concept of subsidiarity to build the capacity of our partners in times of peace so that we can work together to launch effective programmes in times of crisis.”

These efforts are supported by funding raised through Caritas’ Lent Appeal and their Pacific Relief Fund. Caritas has been able to accept donations through their website and by direct credit during the lockdown in New Zealand.

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